The Ugly Truth about Main Lines in Kansas City

Nobody loves talking about their main line.  I mean really, it’s kind of gross, right?  Well, yes, it is, but you definitely do not want any of that in your home!  Unfortunately, it does happen, and this article will explain reasons why this happens and action items to take away from.

A couple factors of why main lines back up is our fault, 100%.  We put things down the toilet that shouldn’t go down there.  Instead of listing what those things are, let’s just put it this way: if it isn’t toilet paper, don’t flush it!  Even if the package says “flushable”, it is not!

Other factors include what we put down our kitchen and bathroom drains.  Soaps, shampoos, and conditioners naturally have grease that can build up and cause problems down the road.  Other things such as cooking grease, eggshells, potato skins, etc., should NOT go down your kitchen drain as that can not only block it up, but can leave debris in your main line that should not be there.

Tree roots.  You love your beautiful trees.  Some may be mature, and some may have been planted by you.  You nurtured the tree and have watched it grow, so now it’s more personal.  They provide shade for you and your home, and you admire the colors when they change in the fall. 

What lurks underground is another story.  Tree roots can find their way into sewer lines.  Over time, this creates a blockage, and most people don’t know this is happening until the blockage causes the sewer line to back up into the basement.

A break in your main line will cause backups as well.  A break can form due to tree root issues or any type of shifting in the ground.

An offset pipe can also cause backups.  An offset is exactly how it sounds.  At a connection, the pipe has shifted due to ground settling or any type of erosion not supporting the pipe properly.  It is uncommon, but poor installation could be a factor as well.

A belly, or low/sagging area in the main line will create backups.  It can be caused by several different factors such as soil erosion or settling foundation.

Now that you have an idea of what can happen to cause backups in your home, what do you do about it?

There are natural, environmentally safe products to help keep roots at bay.  A plumber/drain cleaner would be able to explain how it helps.  If you already have roots in your line, they will need to be cleared out to prevent further problems down the road.  A camera inspection before and after drain cleaning can give you peace of mind and show you the condition of your line before and after the roots are cleared out.  Sometimes we will find issues with the main line after roots are cleaned out depending on how long the problem has existed.  Our plumbers/drain cleaners will always be upfront and give options on any repair or replacement needs if necessary.  Make sure you ask questions and see for yourself the problem you may have in your line.  Ask for a copy of the video and if there are any issues, ask them to locate where the problem is in your yard and how deep the line is.

If you have a belly or break in your line, it will show up in the camera footage.  Again, ask for your yard to be marked.  There is a length and depth associated with your main line and locating the breaks and bellies.  Sometimes, the line can be “spot repaired” and other times it must be replaced depending on the break and where it exists.

Now, you have more information, but what about the repairs?  You may ask yourself: How big of a mess will this make in my yard? What if my main line is under my driveway I just replaced or my landscaping?

Thanks to new technology, there are ways to avoid digging up an entire yard or having to break through a driveway or dig up your beautiful landscaping.  Depending on the city you live in, there is a system called trenchless excavation that is available.  The excavators dig two holes, one at the beginning of the line, one at the end.  They will prepare the new pipe and send it through the old pipe, bursting it off as the new line goes through.  Some call this “pipe bursting” as that is what actually happens.  The process is normally more expensive than digging a trench through your yard, but the savings on what you don’t have to replace above ground is worth it.  If your city does not allow this type of excavation, then digging up the yard is the alternative.  Make sure the company you hire grades and seeds the area so that you can have grass growing back sooner and you shouldn’t have to reseed the area yourself.  Most of the time, the excavation area will have a “mound” shape to it.  This is done on purpose.  Dirt settles and you don’t want a low spot in your yard.  Give it a few days, and the excavation crew should come back out and finish.

Be certain that you hire a licensed company to do the work. In the Kansas City Metro area, there are many cities, towns and villages, so make sure they are licensed where you reside. If they’re qualified, they can pull their own permits, know and practice trench safety. 

Your home has a LOT of drains, therefore, a lot goes into maintaining your drains. Make it easy!  Hire a licensed professional who has the knowledge and skillset to help you keep your home, your biggest investment, safe and comfortable.


Be sure to check out this blog and others on the Full Nelson Inc website HERE

Author: Heather Mansell, President and CEO of Full Nelson Services

Company: Full Nelson Services Inc.


Full Nelson Services, in Kansas City, MO, is a veteran and family-owned business. Since 2003, we provide expert service in plumbing, heating, cooling and excavation. We also assist customers with water filtration, indoor air quality and whole home generators. Our promise is to keep our customers and their families safe and comfortable. We have built long lasting relationships with our customers and gladly welcome new customers to the Full Nelson Family.




Phone: 816-420-9697

Categories: Drains, Plumbing, and Septic.